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CNN Tonight

Brittney Griner Is On Way To U.S. And Expected To Land In San Antonio; DOJ Seeks To Hold Trump In Contempt Over Classified Documents; Poll Shows Approval Of Unions At Highest Point In Decades; Police Search For White Car Seen Outside Home In Idaho Killings; Former CNN Anchor Moving To NY To Give Birth Over Concerns About Poor Maternal Health For Black Women. Aired 11p-12a ET

Aired December 08, 2022 - 23:00   ET




LAURA COATES, CNN HOST AND SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Well, Brittney Griner is flying home tonight. She was released from Russian detention, a penal colony, today in a prisoner swap after being wrongfully held for nearly 300 days.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN HOST: She is expected to arrive soon in San Antonio, where there's a Defense Department program known as PISA. It stands for Post Isolation Support Activities. Just think about how she has to reacclimate, how she can reenter after 10 months in something like. So, this is meant to help Americans who have been detained, acclimate somehow back to normal life.

COATES: And, of course, she is somebody who is a celebrity. So, she can't just have -- I'm sure a period of anonymity and be in a sanctuary which is interesting in and of itself.

I want to bring in L.A. Sparks player Nneka Ogwumike. She is also the president of the WMBA's Players Association and a close friend of Brittney Griner. Nneka, I'm so glad that you're here with us today.

You must be overjoyed by this news on a personal level and also really, really encouraged by all the work that you and your teammates and the players' association have really done to throw their support behind her.

NNEKA OGWUMIKE, L.A. SPARKS PLAYER, PRESIDENT OF WMBA PLAYERS ASSOCIATION: Laura, thank you so, so, so much. You know, you work tirelessly also to use this platform to highlight stories that needed to be told and it's been a long road, but I am -- I woke up in tears this morning as many other people did. I was just so thrilled and relieved to hear that BG was coming home.

We are incredibly grateful to President Biden and the entire Biden- Harris administration for their work to get BG home, and on behalf of all the players. You know, we as women athletes, we do our best to stick together. When we move, we don't leave anyone behind, and we work with intention. And so, we are just so grateful to see all of the support and celebration as BG almost comes home soon.

COATES: I mean, the WMBA has been, even if not always recognized as they should be, Nneka, has been at the forefront of every one of these very important social movements and conversations, let alone the very personal as it relates to BG as well.

And it is personal to you. It's not just somebody you met as a professional athlete yourself. You all are from the same hometown. You've known her and her family since you were little girls.

OGWUMIKE: Yes. I've been playing against BG her since I was about 14, 15 years old. To kind of have our careers just kind of, you know, follow each other in parallel into the WNBA and see each other and support each other along the way both here and overseas. I've played against her globally. I played with her globally. And so, this hits a lot of parts of my heart. I'm just very, very grateful that we get to see her soon.

COATES: Nneka, do you think that the impact of what she has gone through is going to impact other players in the WNBA, who, frankly, because of salary discussions and that you do not match your male counterparts, although you more than match and compete in your athletic prowess, the salaries are not commensurate, are not similar, are not equitable, forcing many athletes to go abroad and play?

Will this, do you think, impact the resolve or the intention of other players in your league to seek out opportunities abroad?

OGWUMIKE: I'm happy you brought this up. You know, this is -- it is already impacting -- you know, it was impacting even before this unimaginable situation that BG went through. You know, she -- we have to highlight why she was over there. And it's -- the overarching umbrella is pay inequity.

That is something that continues to be a point of contention when it comes to how the players, especially women athletes, follow their dreams and are compensated and paid adequately.


And I think you're right. You know, this is something that -- this is something that cannot disappear. This is something that's forefront on the conversation. And I just hope that it gets better. I hope opportunities and resources are more and investment is more so that players don't feel like they have to make decisions between, you know, life and death when it comes to just trying to earn a living doing what they love.

COATES: Speaking of what she loves, I mean, it is the idea of her being home with her loved ones, with her wife, with the family and support that she has.

I do wonder, in terms of a lot of the retorts that are coming out as positive as so many have been about it, what do you say to those who want to be dismissive of this moment or diminish her to just being a celebrity, to just being somebody who had the attention because it was politically expedient to focus on a Black woman? What do you say to people who want to diminish her to her identity in those contexts?

OGWUMIKE: You know, I think that this case really -- it pointed to the fact that so many people try to impart upon others. You really don't know until it happens to you. I'm speaking as someone who is not even, you know, Cherelle or a direct family member. I feel them close to BG enough for these women in this world, mostly Black -- a Black league of women.

It is very difficult to hear non-celebratory comments when it comes to BG. But she remains resilient and her courage and integrity. And hopefully also the joy that's being expressed overwhelmingly for BG's return will also be a part of the reason why we continue to highlight why the next Americans need to come home.

That's something that we've always prided ourselves on. The WNBC is -- we learned through experience. We come ready because we link arms. We may not always know exactly what to do, but we lean on the experts, we lean on those like you who give us platforms for us to educate ourselves, to do better for everyone. And we're hoping that in support of BG that we can continue to advocate for the return of all Americans because that is the first priority.

Using Americans as hostages -- what type of social status they have is not right. It is a moral issue. And we have to focus on that as opposed to reasons why some or others shouldn't come. We're very saw sad for Paul Whelan's family. We hope that he would be included. We have to continue to advocate for those that are still over there.

COATES: Nneka Ogwumike, thank you so much. Really important to hear your insight on behalf of the players' association. I certainly hope we will be able to speak with your long friend in short time. Thank you.

OGWUMIKE: Thank you for having me.

COATES: Alisyn, really important to think about. I mean, knowing her since she was 14. A lot of people getting to know BG as she's known as a professional athlete. But imagine what that's like to watch your friend, your childhood friend, long-term friend, endure that.

CAMEROTA: And never know if this is the day. Should you get your hopes up this day? I'm sure there's all sorts of false starts and false hopes and then they would be, you know, dashed, and then for them to wake up to this, and as she said, she woke up crying.

COATES: Unbelievable.

CAMEROTA: All right, let's bring in to talk about what's next, that's CNN counterterrorism analyst Philip Mudd or Phil Mudd, as we call him, and Jonathan Franks, the spokesperson for the Bring Our Families Home Campaign. He worked to get Trevor Reed free. Gentlemen, great to see you.

Phil, was this a good trade? I mean, trade -- obviously, everybody is happy to get Brittney Griner home. Obviously, that's a huge victory. But trading her, having to trade her, having to let this arms dealer who was convicted for selling weapons to terrorists who wanted to kill Americans in the past, was this a good trade?

PHILIP MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: Yes. My first answer is, what's your option? If you want to go to Vegas and play against the House, if you want a (INAUDIBLE), you're not going to get it. If we're going to go to the Russians and say, we want an equal table, we want her back, more than they want Viktor Bout back, the Russians are going to say, no. If you want to go to a Mercedes deal or ship and say, I want a new Mercedes for 20 grand, they're going to say, no.

We were the weaker party here. We wanted American citizen home, an American citizen who committed at best, at most, on minor misdemeanor against a pond scum arms dealer. We did have an option here, Alisyn.

I think the answer is bring her home. I realized people want other American citizens home, but if you can get one home, bring her home. We didn't have any options here. We were the weaker player here, and they played us.


COATES: Thinking about that -- Jonathan, I want to bring you in here because if you think about the idea of the leverage that Phil is alluding to, when you're talking about other Americans who are believed to be wrongfully detained like Paul Whelan and others, even in Iran and other places across the world, I wonder what leverage you anticipate the U.S. being able to have available to bring him home.

JONATHAN FRANKS, SPOKESPERSON, BRING OUR FAMILIES HOME CAMPAIGN: Thanks for having me tonight. It's an important question. We -- as much as -- I think Viktor Bout was obviously the marquee, but there are still Russians in our custody that President Putin is very much interested in. So, I'm hopeful that we can get on with trading for Mr. Whelan as soon as possible.

CAMEROTA: Well, it's interesting. CNN got an exclusive interview with Paul Whelan today from the Russian jail, and he thinks that he is and has always been in a different category for some reason in Russia. So, here's what he told us.


PAUL WHELAN, AMERICAN DETAINED IN RUSSIA (voice-over): They've always considered me to be at a higher level than other criminals of my sort, and for whatever reason, I'm treated differently than another individual here from a western country that's also on a charge of espionage.

So even though we're both here for espionage, I'm treated much differently than he is. And my treatment is also much different than others held for espionage in other prisons.


CAMEROTA: Phil, what you think that's about?

MUDD: Boy, I think this is more about domestic politics in Russia than it is about America. You can look at this and say that this is about dividing America, that this is about using Paul Whelan. I mean, why would you allow him to go on American TV to say, you know, Joe Biden can't bring him home? I think there's an equal part of this.

That would be Vladimir Putin telling his people, look, we have Americans here who are drug users. I'm not saying that's right. I'm saying that's how they were portrayed, Brittney Griner. We have American citizens here who are spies. I'm here to protect Russia. This man is a spy, he is at a higher level, and therefore, I'm going to demand a lot for him. I think this is domestic politics in Russia more than America.

COATES: I'm thinking about what it's like for her, Brittney Griner in particular, as she's coming home. Jonathan, can you speak to what it's like? I mean, the idea of coming from this circumstance to touching down in Texas. I know there's a program of some sort to reacclimate one from being in the position that she has been in. But what is that process like, to try to assist in that moving of the needle?

FRANKS: You know, the trip home is surreal for most of the folks that come home just because it's often done very quickly. They often don't get a whole lot of notice, and then all of a sudden, they're in San Antonio, Texas.

And, you know, we spoke -- when Trevor was on his way home, we spoke to him from the plane repeatedly. It was, you know, a moment where everybody was really happy but everybody was also a little dazed and confused.

CAMEROTA: I can just imagine. I mean, honestly, the joy mixed with the exhaustion, mixed with the disbelief. Obviously, it's going to take, I would imagine, a long time for her to reacclimate psychologically. Gentlemen, thank you very much for your expertise. Really great to talk to you.

MUDD: Thank you.

CAMEROTA: Okay, so the DOJ looking to help Donald Trump -- looking to hold --

COATES: Not help. Not help.

CAMEROTA: Hold Donald Trump in contempt of court for failing to turn over all of those classified documents that he was keeping at Mar-a- Lago. There is more news on the investigations tonight. So, we'll tell you about the high-profile Trump allies who could also be in hot water.




CAMEROTA: The Justice Department is asking a federal judge to hold Donald Trump in contempt of court for failing to comply with that subpoena to turn over all of those classified documents.

Here to discuss, we have CNN legal analyst Joey Jackson and political commentators S.E. Cupp and Errol Louis. Earl, it's not like the National Archives didn't give him a chance. For a year and a half, starting in May of 2021, they have tried virtually every month -- we have a timeline -- to get, to extract, the classified documents that they knew he had because there were many missing, including, I think, the correspondence with Kim Jong-un.


CAMEROTA: And by the way, there are also top secret.

LOUIS: Yeah.

CAMEROTA: So, it's not he hasn't had a chance. Why wouldn't they hold him in contempt at this point?

LOUIS: Well, it's going to be hard to figure out who to hold in contempt because they're playing this very odd game, something we've never seen before, as is often the case with Donald Trump.

No one wants to step forward and say that they were the official custodian. No one wants to say that they are going to attest to the court on pain of perjury or other kind of professional sanctions for the attorneys, that they have all of the documents that were requested, pursuant to the subpoena. And as long as that's the case, who are you supposed to file?

CAMEROTA: Donald Trump.

LOUIS: It's a novel approach to all of this. But essentially, what they're saying is, no one was in charge, no one will take responsibility for actually fulfilling the subpoena. Therefore, the court is going to have to figure out what to do. Judge Howell is going to figure out what kind of sanctions might actually produce it.

Let's keep in mind, it's not just about punishing someone. They actually want and need to get the nation's secrets together to figure out what has happened to ameliorate any damage that might have been done.


LOUIS: That's the point of the subpoena. You know, they're getting zero cooperation and this odd kind of, I wasn't in charge, no one's in charge, nobody knows.

JOEY JACKSON, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Here's the thing, here's the thing, if you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem. And so, the reality is, is that it would be shameful to say, well, it was Peter, it was Paul, it was Mary, it was Jane, you know, whoever it was. You know, there is this sort of divide, and what am I talking about?

You have people who don't comply, who are normal citizens with the court, and all of a sudden, within 30 days, 60 days, you are in contempt and it's a problem. And it's not only a fine, you're going in, and you're going to go in until or unless you do what this court directs you.

CAMEROTA: So, why are they doing it?

JACKSON: But on this other hand, when you're someone else, then we can wait and stonewall and we can negotiate and, by the way, we've gotten them all in, but you really didn't, you do a search, you find more. It's just not fair.

And the bottom line is we have to have a country, right, where the law equally applies to everyone, not just people who are former presidents, et cetera. You can't flout the system like that and it just really -- it's derogatory to the rule of law that has to be accountability.

COATES: What about -- what about the allies as well? I mean, the idea they are obvious enablers. It's not that you've seen Donald Trump carrying a banker's box someplace any time recently. What about those in the orbit, in the circle, who would be assisting in doing this, including, by the way, lawyers whose job it is to tell the court, this client has done all that you've asked and are unable to do that?

JACKSON: I think there's two things, Laura. I think the first thing is, when you have a difficult client, right, that being Donald Trump, I think he directs his attorneys what to do and what not to do, and that's pretty shameful because attorneys, quite frankly, need to be directing you as to what's appropriate and not appropriate.

But at the end of the day, you know, Laura, as attorneys, we are officers of the court.

COATES: Right.

JACKSON: And if you can't comply or take that mantra of being an officer of the court, then you need to, if you are an aider, abettor, a person who should know better, you should be held accountable, too. So, I say all of that circle, bring him in, find them in contempt.

COATES: I saw that rhyme. I loved it. You're an abettor, one who should know better, don't (INAUDIBLE). Hold on. I felt the courtroom.

JACKSON: Here we go.

CAMEROTA: S.E., this is exactly what we're talking about. Of course, Joey makes a good point.


CAMEROTA: That nobody is above the law, except Donald Trump and his team.

CUPP: He always --

CAMEROTA: You said it wouldn't have been, you know, 60 days for the rest of us.

CUPP: And you can -- you can feel the frustration in this contempt, right? Like we are -- it's almost like they don't trust him, right? Almost like they don't feel like they're getting all the things they want, that they're going to get all the things they want, and they're like, damn in, we're going to hold this guy in contempt, so something actually gets him to do what we asked because he keeps getting around it.

JACKSON: He keeps doing what he wants to do.

CUPP: So, isn't this federal judge going to do it? I mean, this federal judge -- would this federal judge do it?

JACKSON: But the reality, Alisyn, it depends on what do it means. What are you going to do that has teeth?


JACKSON: That has some real accountability? Give him a fine that his business will pay?


JACKSON: It needs to be about personal accountability that will deter this activity in the future. So, we'll see what the judge does.

COATES: We will see. Of course, January 6th Committee, Georgia, New York, I mean, there's a lot of different people interested in the teeth you're talking about.

Look, also, a new poll shows American unions at their highest approval rating in decades, and workers are pushing to unionize big companies like Amazon, like Starbucks. So, what's behind the rise of unions and will it change if a looming recession becomes the reality? We'll talk about it, next.




CAMEROTA: For the first time in decades, employees at "The New York Times" staged a walkout. Today, more than a thousand "Times" workers participated in a 24-hour strike. The strike comes after more than a year and a half of failed negotiations between management and the union representing staffers to forge a new contract.

COATES: And really, it's part of a broader trend of unions and workers that are pushing for more after a year of historic inflation. But with many warnings of this looming recession, will the balance of power between labor and management shift?

CNN political analyst Natasha Alford joins us, and S.E. Cupp and Errol Louis are also back. I mean, this of the shift, Natasha, in particular, and just the idea of what we're seeing, this is a time when we have a president who says he is the most pro-union president that we've ever had.

There has been the aversion of the rail strike. There was a lot of consequential information surrounding that. but I wonder from your perspective what this time tells you about the power of workers and the power to unionize now.

NATASHA ALFORD, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, when you bring up the Biden response to the rail strike, there were actually members of that union, so there are multiple unions who are a part of that conversation, four of the unions voted against, you know, what Biden was proposing because of paid sick leave being left out.

And they felt so betrayed, right? How do you say that we are essential to this country and to this economy and you don't even give us paid sick leave? That is the reality, I think, for many industries.

In the pandemic, we saw -- people were called essential workers, but they weren't being treated like they were essential. They weren't getting the benefits, they weren't getting the wages. And so, workers are realizing their power. There was a time when unions were very strong in this country, you know. And for different reasons, outsourcing, union busting, that changed.


CUPP: But workers are reclaiming their time, so to speak, reclaiming their power and saying, you need us. And when you flex that power, people have to respond.

CAMEROTA: It's interesting, S.E., because the opinion of unions has gone up in the past decade. So, if we look at -- it was at its lowest point in 2009, only 48% approved of labor unions. Today, it is 71%. So, what's that about?

CUPP: And, well, I will also just say, however, union membership is down. It has been declining for decades. But I think the pandemic was a reckoning for anyone who worked in any environment in every sector. We learned we could ask for more.

Now, I'm a conservative, won't surprise you to learn, I do not like unions, I was a member of that union that walked out of "The New York Times." And so, this isn't political for me, this is personal. I didn't like feeling like I was handcuffed to a group that could decide my pay, my hours, the way I was treated, if I had to walk out of my job or not because those contract negotiations happen all the time at "The New York Times" when I was there. I didn't like it.

And so, I think the idea of unions is very popular now and growing in popularity, but the reality is much tougher. There is union busting. It's harder to join a union. There are disadvantages to being in a union, and I think people over decades have gotten to learn that.

COATES: But who we identify as a union person now? I mean, that image is changing overtime. The idea of individuals at Amazon and Starbucks --

CUPP: Microsoft.

COATES: The face of a union person --

CUPP: Yeah.

COATES: -- very different than the stereo typical, you know, out of Hollywood casting.

LOUIS: That's right. What we have here in a lot of ways is what you could call a sort of revolution of rising expectations. There are a lot of younger people who were part of Occupy Wall Street, you know. That wasn't just some phenomenon, right?

People sort of took that and there was a lot of activism and a lot of different jurisdictions around the country where they fought for and got paid sick leave, higher minimum wage, different kind of working hours, and what that has now led to is sort of -- and was intended to lead to is sort of a higher level of expectations where people say, what do you mean I can't take a day off because my mom is sick or my kid is sick?

CUPP: Yeah.

LOUIS: You know, we're going to do something about this, the same way we marched in the street for George Floyd, for Occupy Wall Street, for Black Lives Matter or whatever it might have been against the war.

And so, you know, what we now have is a very engaged, especially younger people, a very engaged populous that's insisting that these things come to the table. That's why you have 71% support, the highest level since 1965. It's why you have, I think, over 640 elections that went pro-union earlier in the first half of this year alone.

So, you know, there are people who are on the move. It's part of a political movement. It's part of an economic movement. They have the wind at their backs and, you know, I hope they get everything that they deserve.

ALFORD: You thought the millennials were demanding, Gen Z is not playing around. The generational difference is really about they expect in the workplace.

CAMEROTA: Yeah, it is really interesting. And on the flip side of what you're saying, S.E., you didn't like to be beholden to a union that was dictating, you know, what your salary was and what your hours were, but a lot of people don't like to be beholden to an employer without the benefit of somebody on their side.

CUPP: Absolutely, I understand the function of a union and the upside of a union. But there is -- there is also downside. I mean, money is misspent. I can't believe like the head of the American Teachers Union made nearly half a million dollars in a year. That is not sticking up for the little guy, for the worker. And I think the politicization of everything, but also labor, has painted amid an image of unions that is not all that kind. And some of it is rooted in reality, some of it is political and politics, but some of it is true, and so there's some skepticism around how much a union can accomplish.

COATES: How is that view to you, Natasha?

ALFORD: Well, I think to your point about the reality of it, you know, we saw Chris Smalls and Amazon, and there was this like inspirational moment, right?

CUPP: Yeah.

ALFORD: You see the speeches on social media. But then you heard about some of the division and not everybody being on board. When you took that vote to Albany with Amazon, you actually didn't get the people who voted for the union because they felt that there was an experience in the organizing. Whether or not that's true --

CUPP: Sure.

ALFORD: -- difference of opinion. But if you can't get people to believe that you know actually how to get the employer to the table, they're going to choose self-preservation.

COATES: Good point.

CAMEROTA: Guys, thank you very much. Great conversation. All right, up next, we have to talk about this. There is a development nearly a month after those four University of Idaho students were stabbed to death. There is no suspect yet, no murder weapon. However, there is a car, and police need your help.




CAMEROTA: Nearly one month after four University of Idaho students were stabbed to death at an off-campus house, police now say they're searching for a white car that was spotted near the crime scene. Investigators say information about the vehicle came from thousands of tips that they have received.

We're back with Natasha Alford, Joey Jackson, and Errol Louis. Joey, it's about time. I mean, it's about time. It has been a month. Usually, when there's a case like this, I find, in having reported on hundreds of these, that a car is one of the first things they put out to the public.


JACKSON: That somebody has spotted it at three in the morning at the time of the crime, a car that wasn't familiar in the neighborhood.

JACKSON: Yeah, I don't disagree with that at all, Alisyn, and particularly when you have a college community like this that's really unraveled, people unnerved by this. A lot of college students opting, in fact, you know, either not to come back or to do virtually, just very traumatic.

And so, in terms of the investigation, you would think, certainly, I'm glad they've gotten to the stage now, but in terms of expediting it and ensuring, right, that you're calming the community, you're knowing and getting the confidence of the community to the extent that you're investigating properly, it certainly should have been a development that occurred earlier.

But these cases are tough. I'm hoping that the forensic evidence and that type of thing might lead to other clues so that they can bring forth accountability. But the fact, Alisyn, that you don't have a weapon at this point and a suspect at this point is certainly troubling.

COATES: And what's so scary, too, about -- I mean, imagine being a student on this campus. In a world where we already have danger on campuses, shootings and violence, you now got the idea of this level of violence happening.

And Natasha, you think about it, the community is being asked to help. But there is a risk in having the overinvolvement. Every lead must now be pursued. And does that slow, I wonder, the investigation? What is your take on how that interaction is impacting everything?

ALFORD: I imagine it creates a bit of noise, right? Every single lead is timed on the clock. And we live in this social media area where more and more people are sleuths, they're internet sleuths, they're investigators.

In the case of Gabby Petito, that actually worked out. I think that's the exception to the rule. I'm not sure that many, many different online groups in conversations that are happening actually helped the trained officials to do their jobs.

But I do agree with this idea that the PTSD, right, of constantly being exposed to violence and murder and being asked to function as a student, even for our K through 12 students who are going to school, it's a lot. I worry about sort of the state of constantly being exposed to that level of fear.

CAMEROTA: Here's something else that concerns me, Errol, about the investigation. The pictures that they put out of this white car that they're looking for, it's a 2011 through 2013 Hyundai Elantra, here it is, these are stock photos that they put out. So, in other words, they're not even getting it from a surveillance camera somewhere.

LOUIS: Right.

CAMEROTA: So, these is just from a tip. I thought that in this day and age in which we live that there were surveillance cameras everywhere, but maybe not in Moscow, Idaho.

LOUIS: Maybe not. It sounds like this is a little bit of a guess by the authorities to try and scare up more information. I mean, as tough of a case as this appears to be and as little help as we may think we are giving by talking about it, all of that noise actually does help the investigators, frankly, keep the resources and keep their supervisors on point.

It holds accountable the local department. It holds accountable the university. It makes clear that this isn't going to just go away where you just sort of dwindle the resources, dwindle the manpower, and then hope it all goes away over the Christmas break or over the summer break.

We've got to keep talking about it. We've got to do whatever we can. It's really discouraging, though, that it seems like there's a real lack of a lot of the basics, including a weapon, a suspect or even a photo of a car.

CAMEROTA: But I do know the power of television. Just what you were talking about. I worked in "America's Most Wanted" for five years, and every Friday night, I would see what hundreds of thousands of eyeballs would do. And by God, we would capture somebody, every Friday night, when the cases had gone cold and the FBI couldn't find somebody because it's everybody watching, and then say, I know that guy, I know that car.

They will -- if this is the car connected, they will find this person. Like you said, I just worry that it's a guess from the thousands of leads that they say have come in.

JACKSON: Yeah. You know, Alisyn, to your point, that's why in the context of politics, they called the media the fourth state, right? When you look at crime, certainly, you know, you can make that analogy, that people who are looking, evaluating, the eyeballs who are certainly attentive to it, might call in tips, as we look at the number there, that might be significant, that may be helpful, that may calm the community, and more importantly, they may bring someone to justice.

COATES: And you may not know what you've seen, you may not know what you know. Right?

ALFORD: I would just say, the flip side, the positive of so many social media interactions is for cases like Shanquella Robinson, right, who was overlooked. There were no charges at first. This young woman went to Mexico with friends.

But because of the reality that women of color, Black women, Black youth are overlooked when they go missing or when they're exploited or when something happens, that's where internet support and online contributions actually did help out. So, I don't think there's any doubt that this case would be paid attention to.


But yes, I do think there are times when it does make a difference. COATES: I certainly hope so. I mean, these four people have been killed, brutally murdered in a home, and there is no suspect on a college campus. I can't imagine what this is like for the families. We have the number up there as well earlier, too. Please, if you see anything, please, do what you can to help.

Up next, a very personal story that tells you a lot about health care in this country. The shocking statistic, Black women in this country are three times more likely than white women to die from pregnancy- related causes. A former CNN colleague is so concerned about that, she is making a major move to protect herself and her baby, and she joins us next.




COATES: Tonight, a personal story that hits close to home for far too many. A former colleague, Isha Sesay, is pregnant and just moved to New York to give birth. Now, one of her reasons, well, because she is a Black woman, and Black women are nearly three times more likely to be impacted.

CAMEROTA: Yeah, we are talking about all the statistics. They die in pregnancy more than white women. As a former CNN anchor and reporter, as we said, Isha Sesay is here to discuss. Isha, you look fantastic!


CAMEROTA: How do you feel?

ISHA SESAY, FORMER CNN ANCHOR AND REPORTER: Feeling remarkably well apart from the wobbling.

CAMEROTA: How many weeks pregnant are you?

SESAY: Seven months.


SESAY: It is close at hand, and I'm trying to make the mental adjustment.

CAMEROTA: You look fantastic.

SESAY: Thank you.

CAMEROTA: So, explain -- I mean, you just moved back to New York --

SESAY: Friday.

CAMEROTA: -- on Friday because you thought that the medical care would be better here. SESAY: So, to be clear, I started my pregnancy journey in New York. I was working with a fertility clinic in New York. I got pregnant here and I started my O.B. care here. I had already planned to go back to L.A. because my mom is unwell. And the issue I've been wrestling with while I was in L.A., should I come back to be with my Black O.B., who I felt very safe with?

When I explained it to my white friends in L.A., they sort of made me feel like I was crazy. They said doctors are interchangeable, you know, care is the same, and a lot of them said, just stay in L.A. and have this baby, many healthy babies are born in L.A.

But the question is not really about the outcome per se which is obviously (INAUDIBLE), it is the experience. And for me, what happened a few weeks ago is that I had to meet with another doctor who reviewed some test results which went to her liking.

And what I experienced was one of the most traumatic experiences of my life. I sat in this examination room and within seconds, this woman was trying to push on me a highly risky diagnostic test. She was talking about terminating my baby. And what struck me in that moment was how quickly she was willing to discard my life and the life of my baby.

And I turned up at my O.B. who is here in New York (INAUDIBLE) sobbing my eyes out. He let me cry. He looked at the data, and he saw something completely different. He saw something completely different, and he said, I will make sure that you have a healthy baby, I will care for you.

And I understood the data in that moment, where Black women say they don't feel heard, seen or valued by the medical establishment far too many times.

CAMEROTA: What an awful experience.

COATES: I can tell you, I can wholeheartedly relate. I remember in my first pregnancy having a doctor be so calloused within his diagnosis to tell me at the end that -- I was in a courtroom, I was in a trial. I took the phone call in a hallway, and he said, don't worry, you can still terminate.

And it was such a moment of just I couldn't believe it and just the expectation that maybe she thought, as a Black woman, we should not be treated delicately or that we not have the need for bedside manner. I never forgot that experience.

SESAY: Yes. And I was so shaken. I cried for days. And that was the moment I decided that I had to come back to New York. I had to come back to a doctor who I felt saw my full humanity, saw the humanity of myself and my child, and who was as invested as he could be.

We know that there are many drivers for the disparities that we are seeing in the mortality rates for Black women, but, you know, even when they account for income, education, access to health care, this structural and systemic racism and implicit bias is real. I will also want to say one more thing, my fertility doctor, an amazing woman, Stephanie Thompson, at IRMS, said to me when she was letting me go, when she was discharging me, she said, whatever I can say to you, whatever piece of advice I ask you to take, is come back and let this man deliver your baby. She said, when we put on our coats, we do not lose our bias.


SESAY: And this is a doctor telling me this important fact. I heard it, but maybe I didn't receive it until I had my experience.

CAMEROTA: It is incredible to hear about your experience because, again, you were in L.A., a major metropolitan area, you were a CNN anchor, so you have the means, you have the, obviously, resources, and you had that experience.

SESAY: And I should say and I should correct you that the experience, the traumatic experience was actually here in New York, so it is not a geographic thing, right, because when I was wrestling with, should I have this doctor discharge me to get new care in L.A., after the experience in New York, I was coming back and forth for checks, after the experience here, I just decided I would stay with her, I would not seek new care elsewhere.

But again, even within New York, look at the difference in where I was treated.


And now, you also understand why some of the data says, Black women sometimes will stop going to appointments when they have a bad experience, because they lose trust. Even I -- I'm still fearful, right, even with this great doctor because he's not the only one who will be caring for me when I go into labor.

CAMEROTA: What's the answer?

SESAY: You know, I think, you know, the Momnibus bill that Rep. Underwood is trying to get through Congress, that is looking at -- first of all, I will say, one of the key things is to have more people of color involved in the medical system in caring for pregnant women who can take in the full cultural specifics of who we are. I think that is one of the key things.

And then just dealing with some of these structural barriers where in some cases low socioeconomic women who can't get access to quality preventative maternal care. I think there are many things. It is a multilayered problem. But what I won't shy away from saying is the structural systemic racism and implicit bias is real.

CAMEROTA: And also speaking about it, you know, publicly and freely, we really appreciate it.

COATES: You got to be your champion. Thank you for being up for others as well. You really can't provide the dignity of care unless the doctor has the integrity to care as well.

SESAY: I'm considering your names with the baby.

CAMEROTA: Thank you. Excellent.

COATES: I mean, Laura is spelled L-A-U-R-A.


COATES: I appreciate that. Thank you so much.

CAMEROTA: Alisyn is a little strange, but we will get to that.

COATES: We will get to that.

CAMEROTA: Isha, great to see you.

COATES: Everyone, thank you so much for watching.

CAMEROTA: Our coverage continues.